STAGE IS IN RAGE

It is not easy to make a mark when all the odds are piled against you, but for the talented professionals of local Pakistani drama group, Instant Dramatics, this is just another hurdle that can be overcome if the conviction is there.

By Bindu Rai

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Published: Sun 29 Feb 2004, 2:15 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 12:37 AM

Headed by actor, director and scriptwriter Abdul Basit Qureshi, Instant Dramatics is an integral part of the Young Pakistani Professionals Forum (YPPF), which aims to bring together like-minded individuals and tap into their resources for the betterment of their community in Dubai. Qureshi, aided by 45 other members, plays an active role in promoting art and culture among the local Pakistani audience and believes that the emergence of their theatre movement lies in the hands of the youths of the community.

Says Qureshi: "Instant Dramatics has been producing plays since last year, with five of our productions already staged to packed audiences. Our latest offering was a street play, Tu Kaun Hai, which was specially conceptualised for the Pakistani Ladies Wing and carried a social message on the inner strength of the young Pakistani woman of today."

The local drama group is still in its early stages but their conviction and their dedication has already won them accolades amongst their community members and from those who share their passion for theatre.

"While we have the full support of the Pakistani Professionals Forum and like-minded individuals, we do need a lot more support," he explains. "Unfortunately, the local theatre scene was not very strong here until recently, with Rangmanch and Pratibimb playing a large part in achieving this high rate of success.

"While Pratibimb has their own talented professionals, and Rangmanch and fly down talented actors from India, and it has also started their own theatre academy - but on the Pakistani front, we don't have a single theatre production house, let alone flying down popular Pakistani personalities to lend their support.

"Most of the time we don't even have a place to practice, thus ending up in someone's home or asking the Ladies Wing to give us a room to hold our acting sessions."

But even with this lack of 'facilities', the emergence of the Pakistani theatre movement seems unstoppable. Their previous few productions have been sold out, with the most popular being their performances during this year's DSF, at the Global Village, "with almost 500 people showing up on the first day, and nearly 1,000 people turning up for the next performance."

Presently, most of the plays are scripted, directed - and sometimes even acted - by Qureshi himself. He states that while most of the members are keen on learning the stagecraft, acting, scripting, directing and more, a lot of them lack in talent. And he feels that this talent can be honed, but they need professionals to achieve that. Says Qureshi: "We desperately need something like the Indian National School of Drama, which plays a great part in educating theatre lovers.

"While the Rangmanch Academy is a novel idea, how much can one individual learn in six hours - especially when most are starstruck with the likes of Kader Khan, Satish Kaushik and Neena Gupta."

Aside from this problem, Qureshi also feels that the Pakistani theatre-going audience hasn't completely matured yet in comparison to its Indian counterpart. He believes that as many Pakistanis have not been exposed to the various forms of theatre, they presently only accept slapstick genre of comedy. With Instant Dramatics, Qureshi wants to produce comedies and serious family-oriented scripts that reflects on the Pakistani way of life and also carries forth a social message.

"We are experimenting though, and in May we have our latest production - which may bring forth strong reactions - but it is already getting a good response from the majority who have heard the concept," he explains.

Qureshi dreams of opening his own local production house one day to promote local talent, comprising Indians, Pakistanis and others who share a passion for theatre. "At present, I do have my hands full with Instant Dramatics, and if we progress at this rate, five years from now we will be up to par with the local Indian theatre movement that is visible today."



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